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“The way through the heart is through the stomach,” the adage goes. This is also a truth in Pueblo cultures, where agricultural staples were crafted into delicious, healthy meals.

Corn, beans, and squash – the Three Sisters. From the Northeast to the Southeast, from the Plains to the Southwest and into Middle America, many Indigenous communities grow varieties of this trio. The name, the “Three Sisters,” comes from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Different communities have stories; the common thread is that the three sisters are very close – stronger together than apart.

The three are one form of companion planting – an agricultural technique where two or more crops are planted together in a single plot. The three function as a unit to provide higher crop yield; they help each other grow by creating a fertile soil that resists damage from diseases and insects that would normally consume and destroy them.

First, plant the corn. The stalks provide a pole for the beans to wrap themselves around and help to stabilize the corn in wind. Beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil. The large, spiny squash leaves provide shade, help the soil retain moisture, prevent weed growth, and discourages insects from invading. Each of the three attracts beneficial insects that prey on those that are destructive.
When eaten together, corn, beans and squash are a complete and balanced meal. Corn is low in protein but provides carbohydrates. Beans are a rich source of protein and have amino acids missing in corn. Squash provides different vitamins and minerals than corn or beans. All three can be dried and used for food year-round.

Cooking Pueblo Style: Micaceous Pottery. Taos and Picuris Pueblos produce a type of traditional pottery that is very distinct from other Pueblo pottery styles. Clay from Taos and Picuris has a very high mica content, which gives all of their pottery a very beautiful, almost metallic shimmer. Occasionally potters apply an additional micaceous clay slip before firing, or add knobs or a very simple design punched into the clay, but generally Taos and Picuris pots are unique for being unpainted, unpolished and with minimal decoration. These micaceous clay pots range in color from a lovely orange-peach to almost black. What also sets Taos and Picuris pots apart is that they are functional and can be used for cooking. The bean pot is one of their well -known forms and is an excellent baking and stovetop cooking piece. Very little traditional pottery has been produced at Taos and Picuris Pueblos since 1950, but there are a few artists working to revive the tradition who create spectacular examples of traditional micaceous clay pottery.

We hope you’re inspired by learning about how Puebloan agriculture and the use of raw materials transforms simple foods and clay into beautiful, healthful meals and pieces of usable art. Here are some ways you can enjoy Pueblo foods and cooking styles with unique items from the Indian Pueblo Store.

Clarence Cruz Fire Clouds Cooking Pot

Clarence Cruz Micaceous Bowl
This remarkable bowl was handcrafted by celebrated Ohkay Owingeh artist Clarence Cruz using traditional clay and firing methods. Created with micaceous clay, this unique pot has beautiful fire clouds throughout, these dark markings are created naturally during the firing process. A utilitarian piece that can be used for cooking or as an elegant addition to your fine art collection, this is a striking example of an ancient art form from an artist who is deeply rooted to his culture and is actively teaching the next generation of potters. 

View Clarence Cruz Micaceous Bowl

Joel Pajarito Tufa Cast Bracelet

Joel Pajarito Turquoise Statement Bracelet
This beautiful bracelet was carefully handcrafted Santo Domingo silversmith Joel Pajarito using the Tufa casting method. In this labor-intensive method, each piece is created by carving and etching rough blocks of volcanic ash (called tuff or tufa) to create a mold. Only one object is extracted from each mold, making each piece truly one-of-a-kind. This highly detailed bracelet features raised ridges atop leading to 14k gold accent near a stunning blue turquoise piece at center. A closer look and you'll see cornstalks and geometric shapes along the inside. Beautifully casted to show every detail this bracelet is truly a stunning piece that is a must-have for your Native American jewelry collection.

View Joel Pajarito Turquoise Statement Bracelet

Betty Dawahoya Wicker Basket

Betty Dawahoya Wicker Basket

The art of basket-making has been practiced by generations of Hopi women. In Hopi culture, they are used for both ceremonial and everyday functions and are made in much the same way today as they were centuries ago. There are three techniques for making Hopi baskets: wicker, plaiting and coiling. The wicker and coil methods are used to create plaque and bowl baskets, while plaiting is generally used to make trays. Wicker baskets are usually made from sumac and rabbit brush, plaited baskets from sumac and dune brush, and coiled baskets from rabbit brush and yucca. In all three techniques, plant fibers are wrapped around a central stem of bundled plant fiber. In their baskets, Hopi artists create complex geometric patterns and beautiful designs in yellow, red and black hues that come from natural and synthetic dyes. Baskets are used to hold food, prayers sticks, prayer feathers, and as decoration in the home, and they also play an important role in weddings and dances. A revered art form passed down from their ancestors, baskets continue to play an important cultural role in Hopi life.

View Betty Dawahoya Wicker Basket

Hopi Cookery Cookbook

Hopi Cookery Cookbook
Author Juanita Tiger Kavena presents more than one hundred authentic recipes and techniques centered upon Hopi staples of beans, corn, wheat, chilies, meat, gourds, and native greens and fruits. Kavena also explains traditional preparation techniques and emphasizes the ceremonial significance of various recipes. The Hopi obtained their food in part through hunting and gathering, but they were primarily farmers. With easy-to-follow recipes and an excellent index, this book offers a culinary adventure to a cook of any level. 

View Hopi Cookery Cookbook

Enduring Seeds by Gary Paul Nabhan

Enduring Seeds by Gary Paul Nabhan
Gary Paul Nabhan, one of the foremost ethnobotanists in the U.S., reveals the rich diversity of plants found in tropical forests and their contribution to modern crops, then¬†explains how this diversity is being lost to agriculture and lumbering at an alarming rate. Nabhan then relates "local parables" of Native American agriculture‚ from wild rice in the Great Lakes region to wild gourds in Florida‚ that convey the urgency of this situation and demonstrate the need for saving the seeds of endangered plants. In this enjoyable and informative volume, Nabhan stresses the need for maintaining a wide gene pool, not only for the survival of these species but also for the preservation of genetic strains that can help scientists breed more resilient varieties of other plants.

View Enduring Seeds by Gary Paul Nabhan

Sakari Farms Hot Sauces

Sakari Farms Hot Sauces
These unique hot sauces feature ingredients grown on Sarkari Farms in Tumalo, Oregon. As a Native American company, they also offer a seedbank and educational classes in addition to these packed full of flavor sauces. Pick your favorite and you'll be amazed on how delicious each is and how you're left wanting more!

View Sakari Farms Hot Sauces

Pueblo Pottery Mug Gift Sets

Pueblo Pottery Mug Gift Sets

Give the enchanting gift of New Mexico flavor and style with an Indian Pueblo Store exclusive! These unique cafe-style ceramic mugs are a replicas of single beautiful clay pots handcrafted by skilled Pueblo Potters. 

Each gift set includes a 4 oz. bag of Red Rock Roasters Pinon Coffee which adds the unique flavor of the high desert to complete these memorable gift sets.

Shop Pueblo Pottery Mug Coffee Gift Sets

At Indian Pueblo Store, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes, and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase, and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft. Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer. 

At a time when many commercially made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 45 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.

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1 comment

  • Thank you for the history of all these beautiful pieces!! Loved the story of the “Three sisters” makes so much sense.

    Jane Hobson-Keller

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